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Contact Pete Heley
PO Box 264
Reedsport, OR 97467
Monthly Archives: November 2017
The water level continues to rise and the water temperature is 40-43 degrees on the Potholes Reservoir. The current water level is 1039.80 – .86 feet higher than this time last week. The Reservoir is expected to rise between .75 and 1.00 foot per week. The Reservoir is currently 6.70 feet below full pool of 1046.50 feet.
Not much to report on the fishing side this week – not because of the fishing – but because of the lack of fishermen. Best bet is to blade bait the humps in 20 feet in the morning moving to 35-40 feet as the day goes on. Fish ½ oz. blade baits in either silver or gold, or troll crawler harnesses on a 2-oz. bottom walker. The face of the dam is producing walleye, smallmouth and trout. Crankbaits, swimbaits, dropshot baits, and football heads with skirted hula grubs and blade baits are the top baits on the dam.
This week has spotty for duck hunter. Some hunters did very well while others struggled to find birds. Several 3-party limits of mallards were brought in. Not many new birds came in. There are opportunities for geese in the fields as well. Mostly little birds right now, but numbers are decent. The hunting has been good when the weather cooperates. As the temperatures begin dropping this week, more birds should be showing up.
While ocean crabbing is still off limits, the crabbing closures for bays, estuaries and the lower tidal portions of larger rivers changed last week to allow crabbing from Tahkenitch Creek south to the North Jetty at Bandon. While this approximately 20 mile southward extension might seem somewhat inconsequential, it means that recreational crabbers can, once again, legally crab the entirety of Coos Bay.
The normal re-opening of ocean crabbing of December 1st was extended to at least mid-December by a combination of low meat content and elevated levels of domoic acid. Until the ocean reopens to crabbing, the only options available to recreational crabbing along the southern Oregon coast are Coos Bay and the lower Umpqua River at Winchester Bay.
While relatively high salinity in Coos Bay means that the entire bay is capable of producing decent crabbing, as heavier rainfall shows up, the better crabbing areas will move closer to Charleston. As for Winchester Bay, there is already a major advantage to crabbing from a boat rather than off a dock. But all three crabbing docks produced near-limit catches last weekend. With continued rainfall, Dock “A”, the farthest upriver of Winchester Bay’s three dock-crabbing choices will be the first to suffer a major decline in crabbing success – followed by Dock “9”. The Coast Guard Pier, which is closest to the ocean will be the last dock-crabbing option to suffer from increased freshwater.
Fishing for yellow perch at Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes has been productive with Tahkenitch the best for numbers and Siltcoos having the largest average size. Another 15-inch perch was caught out of South Tenmile Lake last week. A female yellow perch of 15-inches – caught in February or early March could possibly topple the existing state record of two pounds two ounces.
The Elk and Sixes rivers are still producing hefty chinook salmon. The Elk clears the quickest after a heavy rain, but the Sixes usually has less fishing pressure. As of last week, both streams had very heavy fishing pressure. Within the next two weeks both streams should be giving up winter steelhead as well as late-run fall chinooks.
The coastal coho lakes are still producing salmon and will continue to do so until at least mid-December. Over the last few weeks there were a few anglers fishing Tenmile Creek below the Hilltop Drive Bridge – claiming to be fishing for winter steelhead. Tenmile Creek below that bridge is closed to coho angling as well as being closed to steelhead fishing until December 1st. Both Tenmile lakes and Tenmile Creek above the Hilltop Drive Bridge are open all year for fin-clipped steelhead.
There’s a chance that the 2018 fishing and hunting regulations will be available next week and the ODFW allows hunting and fishing license purchases for the next year as of December 1st. One license that will not cost more next year is a pioneer license which will remain an incredible bargain at $6.00. Resident shellfish licenses will increase from $9.00 to $10.00; Resident fishing licenses for those between the ages of 18 and 69 will increase from $38.00 to $41.00 while the senior fishing license for residents age 70 or more will go from $25.00 to $27.00. The combo hunting/fishing/shellfish licenses for kids age 12 through 17 will remain at $10.00 and the under 18 combined angling tag will remain at $5.00. I am constantly amazed at how many kids cannot remember their social security numbers which would allow them to take advantage of these remarkable bargains. Combined Angling Tags, more common referred to as salmon tags, for those aged 18 and older increased from $35.00 to $40.50 and Hatchery Tags increased by $3.50 to $28.50.
Without attempting to mention every fee increase for the coming year (the info is on the ODFW website), some of the more important fee increases are: Resident Combination from $65.00 to $69.00; Annual Nonresident Fishing from $97.50 to $103.50; 3-Day Nonresident Shellfish from $17.00 to $19.00; Annual Nonresident Shellfish from $26.00 to $28.00 and Sports Pac from $181.00 to $189.50 and the item I feel the most embarrassed to charge for – the Non Resident Combined Angling Tag which went from $26.59 to $60.50 in only three years.
As for the daily licenses – One Days went from $19.00 to $21.00; Two Days went from $34.50 to $38.50; 3-Days went from $50.50 to $55.00 and 7-Days went from $76.50 to $84.50. I’m glad that Oregon didn’t separate their fishing licenses into freshwater and saltwater versions as the states that have gone that route have become much more expensive for those that fish both salt and freshwater.
CDFW News – Commercial Dungeness Crab Season in Northern California (Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte Counties) Delayed Due to Crab Quality Testing.
Due to poor crab meat quality test results conducted at the beginning of November, the Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has issued a memo delaying the opening of the commercial Dungeness crab season in Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 (Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties) for a minimum of 15 days until Dec. 16, under authority of Fish and Game Code section 8276.2. Crab quality tests ensure that crab are filled out enough prior to harvesting and follow the testing guidelines established by the Tri-State Dungeness Crab Committee that is overseen by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission.
“We are trying to schedule a second round of testing to take place before Dec. 7 to determine whether the fishery can open Dec. 16 or will need to be further delayed,” said CDFW Environmental Scientist Christy Juhasz.
If quality tests remain low, CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham has the authority to delay the season an additional 15 days. The season cannot be delayed beyond Jan. 15 due to crab quality as mandated in section 8276.2 of the Fish and Game Code.
The fishery is currently scheduled to open at 12:01 a.m. Dec. 16, 2017. This opening will be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 8:01 a.m. on Dec. 13, 2017.
No vessel may take or land crab within Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 during the closure period. In addition, any vessel that lands crab from ocean waters outside of Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 is prohibited from participating in the crab fishery in Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9, or any other delayed opening areas in Oregon or Washington, for 30 days following the opening of those areas.
Please refer to CDFW’s Frequently Asked Questions about the Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishery for the 2017-18 season.
Recreational crabbing remains open statewide. There are two areas of the coast in northern California where the California Department of Public Health advises consumers not eat the viscera (internal organs, also known as “butter” or “guts”) of crabs due to elevated levels of domoic acid. These areas include Laguna Point, Mendocino County northward to Humboldt Bay North Jetty, Humboldt County, and the Klamath River mouth, Humboldt County northward to the Oregon border.
For more information on health advisories related to fisheries, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Health-Advisories.
For more general information on Dungeness crab in California, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announce the reopening of recreational and commercial bay crabbing from the north jetty of the Coquille River to the north jetty of Coos Bay. The reopening includes crab harvested in bays and estuaries, and on beaches, docks, piers, and jetties. Crab samples taken from the area indicate levels of domoic acid have dropped and remain below the alert level.
The recreational crabbing season in the ocean closed coast-wide on Oct. 16.
Crab harvesting remains closed from the California border to the north jetty of the Coquille River (including the Coquille estuary), and from Tahkenitch Creek (north of Winchester Bay) to Cape Foulweather (north of Newport). Crabbing north of Cape Foulweather to the Columbia River remains open in bays and estuaries, and on beaches, docks, piers, and jetties.
Today’s test results and health advisory come at a complicated time of year for Oregon’s crab fisheries. By rule, Dec. 1 is Oregon’s earliest annual start for ocean crabbing, for both commercial and recreational fisheries. However, this year, due to low crab meat yield and elevated levels of biotoxins in some areas, much of Oregon’s ocean area remains closed to crabbing after Dec. 1. Additional testing for meat yield and biotoxin levels will continue at least through the end of December.
For both recreational and commercial crab fishermen, below is a simple guide for what is currently open and closed. Before you go crabbing, please confirm the status of ODFW/ODA harvest areas relative to concerns about elevated biotoxins at the website below.
Recreational crabbing – Currently open in all bays and estuaries that are not under the health advisory; opens after Dec. 1 in ocean areas where biotoxins are below the alert level.
Commercial ocean crabbing – Delayed in all areas until at least December 16.
Commercial bay crabbing – Commercial bay crabbing is re-opened in Coos Bay on Monday, Nov. 27; commercial bay crabbing remains closed from the California border to the north jetty of the Coquille River (including the Coquille estuary), and from Tahkenitch Creek to Cape Foulweather. Commercial bay crabbing remains open at this time in bays and estuaries, and on beaches, docks, piers, and jetties within the areas that are not under the health advisory.
All commercial bay crabbing will be closed as of Dec. 1 along with the delayed season for the commercial ocean fishery, according to existing ODFW rules. This year, the commercial ocean fishery is delayed from Dec. 1 until at least Dec. 16.
Despite the closure, crab and shellfish products sold in retail markets and restaurants remain safe for consumers.
For more information, call ODA’s shellfish safety information hotline at (800) 448-2474 or visit the ODA shellfish closures web page at: http://www.oregon.gov/ODA/programs/FoodSafety/Shellfish/Pages/ShellfishClosures.aspx
The water level continues to rise and the water temperature is holding in the mid to lower 40’s on the Potholes Reservoir. The current water level is 1038.94 – .79 feet higher than this time last week. The Reservoir is expected to rise between .75 and 1.00 feet per week.
More anglers fished the Reservoir this week and were rewarded with nice catches of walleye and trout. The humps between Goose Island and Crab Creek are producing walleye up to 7 pounds. Best bet is to blade bait the humps in 20 feet in the morning moving to 35-40 feet as the day goes on. Fish ½ oz. blade baits in either silver or gold, or troll crawler harnesses on a 2-oz. bottom walker. The face of the dam is producing walleye, smallmouth and trout. Crankbaits, swimbaits, dropshot baits, and football heads with skirted hula grubs and blade baits are the top baits on the dam. Medicare Beach is producing is producing nice trout both from the beach with Power Bait and from a boat trolling Flicker Shads.
This week has been decent for both duck and goose hunters. The Northern mallards are trickling in. Mallards, Teal and Widgeon the main birds being taken. There are opportunities for geese in the fields as well. Mostly little birds right now, but numbers are good.
Crabs picked for testing at Coos Bay last week tested safe for Dioxin levels, which should mean good news regarding the current closure – however unsafe crabs were found near Brookings and Yachats. The Department of Agriculture, which is in charge of shellfish testing may increase the size of the closed area regarding crab harvest. Their decision-making is based on caution and the coastal areas they close almost always end at either the California or Washington borders.
So while the Oregon coast north of Yachats, Waldport or Newport may remain open to the Washington border there is a very good chance that the closure starting at the California border may be extended northward to include Winchester Bay, Florence and Yachats.
While hoping for the best, the high, muddy water in Oregon’s larger coastal rivers and even bays should lessen the “pain” of an extended crabbing closure.
A last-minute update from the ODFW and ODA announced that the area between the North Jetty at Charleston and Tahkenitch Creek will remain open to crabbing while the coastal stretch from Tahkenitch Creek to Cape Foulweathe (south of Depoe Bay) is now closed to crabbing.
For the most up-to-date crabbing information visit: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/shellfish/commercial/crab/season_weekly_updates.asp
Gary Wolfer sent me a series of photos of beach erosion near the second parking lot south of Winchester Bay. The photos showef that the dropoff went from barely noticeable to six feet in less than two weeks.
The heavy rains got fresh salmon into the coastal coho lakes and south coast rivers. While anglers may have to wait a few days to fish for the junbo chinooks the south coast rivers are famous for, the coho salmon lakes should remain clear enough to fish. The folks at Darlings Resort reported that the largest coho checked in so far, measured 32-inches, but they expect a much larger portion of adult cohos among the later-arriving fish.
Don’t count on Oregon to follow suit, but Washington has a new way to determine if a steelhead is of hatchery origin. It seems that warm water curtailed steelhead-marking operations of the Makah Tribe’s hatchery on the Hoko River. When these fish started returning to the Hoko River unmarked, steelhead having dorsal fins of less than 2 and 1/8-inches were deemed to be of hatchery origin. The standard of 2 1/8 -inches has been used elsewhere to identify unclipped hatchery steelhead. The new method of determining hatchery origin will most likely continue until the unmarked hatchery steelhead are no longer entering the Hoko River.
Bradley Lake, stocked during the last week in October, is the last lake to receive planted trout along the Oregon coast, but Butterfield and Saunders both have fishable numbers of uncaught stocked trout. Walter Wirth Lake and Walling Pond in Salem as well as the Alten Baker Canal in Eugene will receive trout plants through December. Junction City Pond will be stocked with larger trout in mid-December.
A few skilled and determined bass anglers are still catching a few bass, but the catch of anglers using lures designed to appeal to both bass and salmon on Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes has consisted almost entirely of salmon and larger trout.
My friend, William Lackner, has put together an absolutely awesome website that has loads of outdoorsy information guaranteed to help anglers, hunters and travelers in western Oregon. The site’s name is “ Mile by Mile Guide to the Oregon Coast” and its URL is: www.milebymile.info/. Check it out once and you’ll be back.
Washington State wildlife managers are evaluating the behavior of 11 young deer at a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center in Thurston County, where they euthanized three fawns and an elk calf last week after finding those animals had become habituated to humans.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has confirmed that several turkey vultures have been poisoned from the veterinary euthanasia drug pentobarbital in the Simi Valley area of Ventura County.
Seven turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) were found dead or impaired in California’s Simi Valley in October. Two of these were successfully rehabilitated by the Ojai Raptor Center, but the other five died. Pentobarbital exposure was confirmed in the digestive system of one of the dead turkey vultures. The source of the exposure remains unknown.
Pentobarbital is a drug used by veterinarians to euthanize companion animals, livestock and horses. If the remains of animals euthanized with pentobarbital are not properly disposed of after death, scavenging wildlife – such as turkey vultures and eagles – can be poisoned. Veterinarians and animal owners are responsible for disposing of animal remains properly by legal methods such as cremation or deep burial.
Pete Heley works parttime at the Stockade Market & Tackle, across from ‘A’ Dock, in Winchester Bay where he is more than happy to swap fishing info with anyone.
ODFW is waiving all fishing licensing requirements on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving to encourage people to #optoutside with friends and family during the long holiday weekend.
On Nov. 24 and 25, 2017, all fishing, crabbing and clamming in Oregon will be free for both Oregon residents and non-residents. That means no licenses, tags or endorsements are needed on those days. All other fishing regulations apply.
Jason Waidelich, of Nampa, Idaho, was fishing the Boise River with his ultralite spinning outfit spooled with monofilament testing four pounds when he hooked a behemoth rainbow trout.
After a lengthy battle Jason wrestled the trout to shore. The trout measured 34-inches long and had a 23.5-inch girth. When weighed on a USDA certified scale the lunker rainbow weighed 19 pounds four ounces.
While Jason’s catch is amazing, the Boise River has infrequently given up trout that were true lunkers. Years ago, the Boise gave up a brown trout of about 20 pounds and a few years ago the nearby Clearwater River gave up a 20# rainbow below Dworshak Dam. The extremely chunky 30-inch fish had obviously been feasting on fish chopped up by the dam’s turbines.
The Southwest Region Council of the Access and Habitat program will host a public meeting Nov. 30 at 3:30 p.m. to discuss a possible new Travel Management Area to be known as the Coos Mountain TMA within the Tioga Wildlife Management unit.
The meeting will be held at ODFW’s Central Point office, 1495 East Gregory Road. Attend in person or call 1-877-336-1831 and enter participant code 804246.
Commercial timberland ownership in the area has shifted in recent years. The new TMA would provide “Welcome to Hunt” access on 63,000 acres so that hunters would have access to more private and public land in the area. TMAs typically involve some motor vehicle restrictions and help regulate access so private landowners are more willing to open their property to hunters.
The A and H program funds projects that provide hunter access and/or improve wildlife habitat on private land in Oregon. It’s funded by a $4 surcharge on hunting licenses and big game auction and raffle tag sales.
For more information, please contact Jade Keehn, ODFW’s A and H SW Regional Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org, (541) 826-8774 x232.
CDFW News – CDFW Awards $1.3 Million for Restoration in Watersheds Impacted by Marijuana Cultivation
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced the selection of four projects to receive funding for habitat restoration projects within California’s Northern Coastal watersheds most impacted by unregulated cannabis cultivation.
The awards, totaling $1.3 million, were made under CDFW’s Cannabis Restoration Grant Program, and will support cleanup and habitat restoration at inactive cannabis cultivation sites.
“These grants mark an important step forward in our efforts to address the extensive damage to habitat and toxic chemicals threatening a host of wild species,” CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham said. “Providing a resource to address the impacts of reckless cannabis cultivation adds an important piece to the complex puzzle of our existing watershed restoration work.”
Projects approved for funding through the Cannabis Restoration Grant Program include:
Reclaiming our Public Lands and Watersheds from the Environmental Threats of Trespass Cannabis Cultivation ($1,068,415 to Integral Ecology Research Center);
Bull Creek Cannabis Recovery Project ($94,510 to Eel River Watershed Improvement Group);
SF Usal Creek Headwaters – Trash and Toxin Cleanup ($83,840 to Eel River Watershed Improvement Group); and
Whitethorn Grove Clean Up ($64,831 to Sanctuary Forest, Inc.).
Projects funded under the 2017 Cannabis Restoration Program are scheduled to commence in early 2018.
The Cannabis Restoration Grant Program was established by CDFW in 2017 in response to legislation aimed at regulating the burgeoning legal cannabis industry. In his signing message to Assembly Bill 243 (Wood, Medical Marijuana), Governor Brown directed, “the Natural Resources Agency to identify projects to begin the restoration of our most impacted areas in the state.”
“I have seen firsthand the devastation to the watersheds caused by these rogue cannabis growers,” said Assemblymember Jim Wood, the author of AB 243. “They divert water, use prohibited herbicides and leave behind hundreds of butane canisters and chemical ponds that pollute our waterways affecting the salmon and trout populations. I am thankful that Governor Brown allocated $1.5 million this year to kick off this very targeted restoration program for the North Coast area and look forward to the state identifying future funds so we can continue this critical work.”
General information about CDFW’s Cannabis Restoration Grant Program can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Watersheds/Cannabis-Restoration-Grant.